Chicago has been stingy with spring so far. The sun—though warm enough—doesn’t appear often enough. The sky is the right blue at times but clings to low temperatures. In the fair fragments of fair days, people emerge as from caves, turn their faces upward, and walk stupefied in parks and on busy streets. But I can’t count on the next day. Another storm or chill will come.
To live here, you need insulation—not just the real sort that stuffs coats or lines walls against wind and snow, but the psychological sort that allows you to remain steady through cold and hot, that keeps you tolerant, moderate, and calm in the face of struggles. Insulated people aren’t unsettled by bad minutes, hours, or days. They’re rarely put-off, aggravated, insulted, or miffed. They don’t feel down for long. Nothing penetrates their poise. Their desperation barely becomes audible.
My own insulation is thin. Some people say I’m “sensitive,” though no one applies the term as a complete compliment. Being sensitive means you feel subtle shifts of light and shadow and the rise and dip of each degree change. When you’re sensitive, winter permeates you. You thaw just as readily, but I wish I were the sort who stayed the same through vicissitudes. I’d like to carry the seasons in me, to call them as needed and rest assured I might meet spring just as summer, fall, and winter.
The world has no shortage of worries and is always with me, and anything that happens—to those I know and those on the news—can drag me into weather hard to elude.
The other day, after another soggy walk to school, I ran into a colleague who told me I shouldn’t despair, that spring had to come someday. I tried to be cheered, but hope comes reluctantly when conditions affect you. People say things will get better, and I know they’re right, but these things will also get worse, and better again, and worse. I know that, however these things are, they will demand I accept their comings and goings and how little I control them.
It’s enough to make me desire delusion, the willful substitution of faith for doubt, and the oblivion of utter insensitivity. I could wish for hibernation too, if I didn’t worry about its becoming my perpetual state, a way to escape into unconsciousness and save myself from internal weather.
A bright day will arrive soon to obliterate these dark thoughts—it can’t rain every day—and, when a beautiful day does appears, I’ll celebrate spring with everyone else. In the meantime I wish I could find another layer to wear. I wish belief in spring sustained me more.